August 18 marks 100 years since the 19th Amendment was passed, giving women the right to vote. In a surprise move, President Donald Trump pardoned Susan Brownell Anthony, to mark the day. Anthony’s crime? She dared to vote.
The Woman Behind the Suffrage Movement
Susan B. Anthony was born on February 15, 1820, in Massachusetts. She was raised as a Quaker, which instilled the belief that everyone was equal under God. At the age of 17, she went to a Quaker boarding school but soon had to quit her studies when her family suffered financial hardship. Times were tough, so Anthony went to teach at a Quaker school.
A few years later, Anthony started to fight for the freedom of slaves and against the oppression of women.
Anthony started giving public speeches against slavery and advocating for the right of women to vote. She and her friend Elizabeth Cady Stanton formed the National Woman Suffrage Association, which promoted the vote for women. They became known as suffragettes.
The First Amendment protects the right to assemble in public, but it was still frowned upon for women to address such topics. Anthony risked being arrested for expressing her unpopular views. “Trust me that as I ignore all law to help the slave,” she said, “so will I ignore it all to protect an enslaved woman.”
Anthony, her sisters, and nearly 50 women in Rochester registered to vote in the 1872 presidential election. On November 18, they were arrested for illegally voting. At her trial, Anthony protested her treatment, saying her rights were being trampled. The judge ordered her to pay a $100 fine for her crime. “I shall never pay a dollar of your unjust penalty,” she said, and kept her word.
Anthony did not live long enough to see the 19th Amendment, also known as the Susan B. Anthony Amendment. She died in 1906, 14 years before the change was approved, but her legacy lives on. In modern times, women visit her gravesite to place “I voted” stickers in her honor.